In this month’s Well-being column, former BBC Studios exec and corporate wellness coach Tracy Forsyth tackles how to get through next week’s MIPCOM market in Cannes without losing the plot – and yourself.
Ah, the annual global TV market MIPCOM. For those who don’t work in TV, the picture it can summon is one of TV execs strolling on the Croisette in the gorgeous Cannes sunshine, laughing at star-studded cocktail parties and shaking hands on a multimillion dollar deal before a seafood and champagne lunch on the company yacht. However, for most delegates, MIPCOM is a feat of endurance that can deplete your mind, body and soul and leave you a husk of a human by the time it’s all over.
Breakfast meetings start at 8.30am and then pitching, buying and selling goes on in back-to-back 30-minute batches right through 6pm. Then it’s a drinks pitch, client dinner, the industry parties and networking until 2.30am. If you are Animal from The Muppets then this probably energises you. For everybody else, here is my simple survival guide.
There’s a concept in yoga called Brahmacharya that was traditionally translated as sexual restraint. The principle suggests you channel sexual energy into the practice of yoga, not hedonism. Now I’m not going to get into the myth of MIP Husbands and Wives – that is not my business (although if it’s true I wholeheartedly disapprove). These days Brahmacharya has lost its sexual connotation and is taken to mean using your energy in the right way.
At MIPCOM, there are a huge amount of distractions and energy sappers. You have to be ‘on’ from the moment you turn up at the airport because there are 100 people in the industry also on the same plane that you could talk to. It’s fun – but draining. So, focus your energy on what needs doing, who needs seeing, landing what message you need to land and prioritise that.
Secondly, take at least two minutes every hour to breathe deeply and fully. When you are waiting for your next client, spend that time consciously breathing deeply. In and out. In and out. Or when you are walking from the Croisette to the Bunker, breathe in for four steps and out for four steps. Do it whenever you can. Breathing deeply refreshes us and brings more oxygen into our bloodstream, in turn energising us. It also helps calm down the nervous system and destresses us. All that fresh oxygen to the brain will even help you perform better.
Between spending three-plus hours a day on our smartphones and 12 hours at a desk doing deals and meetings, it’s no wonder we end up hunched over with a sore shoulders and neck, feeling like a crumpled-up tissue by the end of each day. Stand up and stretch as much as you possibly can. If it’s difficult to do this in a room full of serious meetings, then go to the restroom and stretch in there. Full-body stretch, raise arms over the head, lean side to side. Fold over from your hips, knees bent (though avoid head below heart if you have high blood pressure). Do some twists from side to side. In yoga, twists are said to massage your internal organs and bring new ‘prana’ or energy to them. For a real luxury, book yourself in for a post-MIPCOM massage when you get back home and a restorative yoga class.
Finally, remember to hydrate. I love a rum cocktail. And a glass of prosecco. But when you add those to six coffees in the morning and four cups of tea in the afternoon, it’s no wonder you start to feel a bit jaded and wan.
There is pressure to drink at MIPCOM because many a time you are entertaining clients or out at a party. But sustained drinking and caffeine intake over three to four days will have you feeling rotten. So hydrate as much as humanly possible: drink herbal teas, water, hot water with lemon, water with cucumber. Just drink your H20.
Tracy is a creative mentor for the Channel 4 Indie Growth Fund, the producer of the WFTV mentoring scheme and a professional executive coach. Follow her at walterwootze.com